The New World

The New World ★★★★★

All is perfect. Let me be lost. True. You flow through me like a river.”

A river of a film. Froths forward, doubles back, sprouts tributaries, estuaries, leaks into small pools, cascades over your fingers, spills into an Edenic bayou— almost still, but always with a hint that it cannot last.

Water that washes clean, floats in the promise of new beginning. Stream to a flaming sunset that silhouettes the trees, burnishing the current a soft blue. Whispers of another time like a stirring wind over the punishing present. Joy, fluid movement of running and skipping through a grassy field (move like water, live like water). Freedom as the ephemeral, ineffable moments— those things that can only be described in their very resistance to description: a river, the feeling of love (and how ironic that that film— the capturing of a series of still images— is here able to convey the ceaseless movement of the uncapturable). For isn’t it always futile to try and map words onto the flow of a stream? All its fluctuations in minuscule splashes, all the subtle gradients of light over all its ever-shifting edges— it remains untranslatable. And how futile it would be to pin the weightless word of love onto a discrete description! How it feels to have something wash over you, cool shock of immersion, knowledge not from the mind, but in the senses.

Industry against harmony; noisy production, fighting, and violence versus serene dappling of gold light across a rippling surface; laughing, lounging, loving. A stark contrast between two worlds, which demands a question of how, or if, they can even accommodate one another. The new world is one of touch: fingertips through grass, against bark, dipped into the river, or caressing the arm of a lover. And London, on the other hand, is a world of lavish sights, largely inaccessible and closed off to touch, with its architecture that towers out of reach. Dresses and frills hide the warmth of skin. Trees in the garden are identical and symmetrical; for the eyes, not the hands.

The film isn’t forceful with these ideas; they’re not didactically written into the story, but are instead written into the senes. And since the format of film itself deals only with two senses— sight and sound— it then must intertwine those in patterns so it can channel the other three. For the senes work best together: while the eyes slide too easily over smooth surfaces, smell lingers in the mind’s air, and while sound over-crowds and jumbles together, touch is tangible and anchoring... yet still not quite as intimate as taste— taste both in the sense of the touch of the lips, and in the perceiving of a flavour. This is what The New World accomplishes: all the senes in harmony to describe the flavour of an experience. It’s a river, a rhythm… breathless, breathful— and beautiful.